School Leavers Careers Opportunities & Development - Advice Guidance - Information & News From Your Career Guide

A Guide to Your Career

Degrees and further study

A degree is a standard entry into many careers – not just ‘traditional’ professions such as architecture, engineering, medicine and law, but others such as banking, finance, the civil service, recruitment, ICT and design. Lots of employers in these sectors operate graduate trainee schemes, which fast-track graduates quickly into management and high-level roles. Aside from improved career prospects, people choose to do a degree to pursue a subject of interest to them, develop their understanding of a subject and gain skills at a high standard that is recognised around the world.

Graduates usually command higher salaries throughout their career than those without a degree. According to research by Universities UK, graduates can expect to earn on average £160,000 more during their lifetime than a non-graduate with A-levels. So even though graduates leave university with around £15,000 of debt, they are likely to make up the difference eventually.

Bachelor degrees normally take three years to complete full time, although many are now based on modules, which count as credits towards a full degree, allowing you greater flexibility in how you study. Some degrees offer a year abroad, or working in an industrial placement as part of the course. More than 50,000 degree courses are listed on the UCAS website along with entry requirements for each course.

Applying for a degree course – hints and tips

  • Make sure you’ve visited the universities or colleges of your firm and insurance choices, have checked out the town/city centre and surroundings, the student union and the department in which you’ll be studying. Try and talk to someone who’s studying/studied there to get a feel for what it’s like.
  • Acquaint yourself with the UCAS online application system before filling it out, so you know what information you need to have to hand.
  • You have to make a ‘firm’ acceptance of your preferred course, and an ‘insurance’ choice. Many people choose a course with lower entry requirements as their insurance choice, so that if they don’t achieve the entry requirements for their first choice, they still have the opportunity to go to university.
  • If you don’t get the required grades for your firm or insurance choice, you’re eligible for Clearing so have the Clearing phone number to hand when you open your results, just in case.
Visit for a list of courses and information on how to apply.